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Serco ordered to cease using facial recognition on workers

By Frank Prenesti

Date: Friday 23 Feb 2024

(Sharecast News) - UK government contractor Serco has been ordered to to stop using facial recognition technology to monitor the attendance of employees at leisure centres it operates.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found that Serco Leisure and community leisure trusts were unlawfully processing the biometric data of more than 2,000 employees at 38 leisure facilities across Britain.

It added that facial recognition and fingerprint scanning were used to monitor workers' attendance and then the subsequent payment for their time.

The leisure centre operator failed to show why these methods were needed rather than "less intrusive" means, such as ID cards or fobs for staff, the ICO said.

"Employees have not been proactively offered an alternative to having their faces and fingers scanned to clock in and out of their place of work, and it has been presented as a requirement in order to get paid," the ICO said.

"Due to the imbalance of power between Serco Leisure and its employees, it is unlikely that they would feel able to say no to the collection and use of their biometric data for attendance checks."

The ICO also said employees were also not offered a clear alternative to having their faces and fingerprints scanned.

John Edwards, the UK Information Commissioner, said: "Biometric data is wholly unique to a person so the risks of harm in the event of inaccuracies or a security breach are much greater - you can't reset someone's face or fingerprint like you can reset a password."

"Serco Leisure did not fully consider the risks before introducing biometric technology to monitor staff attendance, prioritising business interests over its employees' privacy."

Serco confirmed it would fully comply with the enforcement notice.

Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com

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